"I won't call it an embarrassing moment, but a lot of people
flew in for that game," Smoltz said after pitching the Atlanta
Braves past Florida 5-0 Tuesday night. "A lot of those same people
were at the game tonight. I wanted them to see at least more than
an inning and two-thirds."
Smoltz threw his first shutout in six years and Andruw Jones hit
his 20th homer for the Braves. It was also Smoltz's second complete
game in three starts.
"I've been grinding it trying to do something like this," he
said. "I just feel like I'm under control with everything. I don't
think too far ahead in the game."
Smoltz (7-5) fanned Matt Treanor in the seventh to pass Jack
Morris for 28th place on the career strikeout list with 2,479. The
Atlanta right-hander will always share a common bond with Morris
after they combined for 17 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 7 of the
1991 World Series.
Though Morris pitched a 10-inning shutout in the Minnesota
Twins' 1-0 victory that night, Smoltz learned a lot from the
"It's pretty neat," Smoltz said. "Just following his career,
he was a battler. I feel like I'm a little bit in his footsteps on
the mound. That's how I feel. I'm not going to give in. This has
not been a year where I go out and try to strike guys out. I think
that's allowed me to go deep in the game so many times in a row."
The 38-year-old Smoltz, who earned 154 saves as Atlanta's closer
before returning to the rotation this year, allowed just five hits
in his 15th career shutout.
Jones' two-run shot in the seventh off reliever Chad Bentz ended
Smoltz, who struck out six and walked two, won his third
straight start to erase memories of the 9-0 blowout loss at Florida
in the season opener. The 1996 NL Cy Young Award winner improved to
7-4 since opening day and lowered his ERA during that span of 107
2/3 innings to 2.42.
The last time Smoltz pitched a shutout was April 30, 1999, at
Cincinnati. He missed the 2000 season after injuring his right
elbow in spring training and undergoing Tommy John surgery.
A.J. Burnett (4-5) allowed six hits, three runs and three walks
in six innings for Florida. The right-hander struck out four as he
dropped to 1-4 in his last nine starts.
"No matter how hard you throw, you've got to hit your spots,"
said Burnett, who hit 98 mph a couple of times in the first three
innings. "When I threw it down the middle, they hit it. We have to
figure out a way to win. I do, at least."
Smoltz, who pitched a complete game in a 5-3 win over Oakland on
June 11, has pitched at least eight innings in four consecutive
starts. The current streak marks the fifth time in his career that
Smoltz has reached that mark and the first time since August 1997.
He credits the addition of a changeup to balancing his
reputation as a power pitcher.
"I've been working hard on it," Smoltz said. "It's been one
of my pitches that's coming along as the season goes on. It helps
keep my pitch count low, keeps them off my fastball a little bit."
After taking a 1-0 lead on Jones' RBI groundout in the first,
the Braves scored twice in the fifth. Kelly Johnson's RBI groundout
made it 2-0 before Adam LaRoche drove in Pete Orr from second on an
opposite-field single to left.
Burnett walked the bases loaded with one out in the third, but
escaped trouble when LaRoche took a called third strike and Wilson
Betemit hit into a fielder's choice.
Florida right fielder Jeff Conine credited Smoltz's location
with his team's problem scoring runs.
"With the people we have out there, runs should come a little
easier," Conine said. "You can't explain it. Bottom line -- we're
just not doing the job."
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, one win from tying Walter Alston for
seventh place on the career victories list with 2,040, had closer
Chris Reitsma warming up in case Smoltz struggled in the ninth.
"John wanted to finish it," Cox said. "That's what we all
wanted, to see him go out and dominate like that. It was fun."
Marlins C Paul Lo Duca left in the fourth with a bruised
right foot. X-rays were negative. Treanor replaced Lo Duca, who is
day-to-day. ... Orr, whose start gave Marcus Giles the night off,
was charged with two errors, the first on Carlos Delgado's grounder
in the third, but SS Rafael Furcal picked up the ball and threw out
Miguel Cabrera at third to end the inning. ... Delgado extended his
hitting streak to 15 games.